UNMISS said its third quarterly report covering July to September documented 142 incidents of violence in South Sudan, indicating there is a remarkable reduction from 351 incidents registered during the same time last year.
“Upper Nile and Warrap states were most affected by the violence, accounting for more than half of victims recorded during the reporting period. Conventional parties to the conflict were responsible for a majority of the civilian casualties in the reporting period,” UNMISS spokesperson Linda Tom told South Sudan in Focus.
Tom attributed the decrease to a decline in civilian casualties in Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria and Eastern Equatoria states.
The report said 285 people were killed in violent acts and 92 others were subjected to conflict-related sexual violence.
Tom said while there is decrease in violence against civilians, other abuses continue unabated.
“We do note that gross violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law remain a widespread concern across South Sudan,” Tom said.
UNMISS said it has documented 92 victims of conflict-related sexual violence including 20 rapes, adding nearly half of the alleged perpetrators of sexual violence were family members, community members such neighbors of the victims.
The United Nations Peacekeeping mission is calling for more protection for women and girls who UNMISS says are vulnerable due to their lower status and some harmful traditional practices across South Sudan.
The UN mission said groups including the country’s national army, the South Sudan People’s Defense Force (SSPDF), the former rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA IO) and some holdout rebel groups like the National Salvation Front (NAS) are allegedly responsible for some acts of violence, including sexual violence.
The spokesperson of the SPLA-IO Colonel Lam Paul Gabriel denied his group’s forces involvement in any violent acts against civilians in South Sudan.
“This report of UNMISS is a bit misplaced because they do not know who is fighting who. They need to make proper investigations to make sure they know exactly who is attacking who,” Col. Gabriel told South Sudan in Focus.
NAS spokesman Suba Samuel also denied involvement in violent acts, including the recruitment of children, adding “That approach of forceful recruitment it is something that is not within our part of recruitment strategies. For us we have vision, we have mission and we have program and we appeal to the hearts of people we talk to the people whoever is willing then he comes,” Samuel told South Sudan in Focus.
Efforts to reach SSPDF Spokesperson Major General Lul Ruai Koang for comment on the UNMISS allegations were unsuccessful.
Tom said South Sudan’s Transitional Government of National Unity should implement the country’s new roadmap for for extending the mandate of the 2018 peace agreement to reduce violence against civilians in the country.